26 giugno 1995
di Stephen Handelman
SOMMARIO. Ottima analisi della situazione relativa ai rapporti tra Cuba, gli Stati Uniti, l'Europa e il Canada. Dopo la tempestosa precedente conferenza stampa alla sede delle NU di new York, questa volta E.Bonino riapre il colloquio con la stampa canadese. Viene analizzata la questione dei rapporti tra Cuba e gli Stati Uniti, dove è in corso un tentativo di restringere la legislazione anticubana, anche perché le misure correttive assunte da castro sono insufficienti. Canada ed Europa hanno, su questo tema, interessi convergenti. Viene poi presa in esame la questione Haiti, un paese verso il quale l'Europa compie un grosso sforzo, inviando aiuti rilevanti.
New York - Every Canadian owes a Kind of debt to Emmna Bonino.
If you can't immediately place the name, think back a few months to "the lost, lonely, unloved turbot... clinging by its fingernails"
It was Emma Bonino, the European Union's fisheries commissioner, who accused us of "piracy' and of manufacturing evidence during the fish war between Spain and Canada.
In a chaotic, unruly press conference at the U.N., she forever doomed Europe's case - and goaded Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin into uttering one of the best lines in Canadian diplomatic history.
Thanks to her, the world temporarily forgot we were supposed to be boring. Canadian pirates, eh?
She was back at the U.N. this week and, well, "Our last meeting was not very good," she conceded to the packed room of journalists who came to see her in hopes of a repeat performance. "It was - how do you call it? - lively."
Her press conference ended up proving one of the most infuriating axioms about international affairs, and life in general. Yesterday's enemy can be today's buddy.
Now that the smoke has cleared from the Grand Banks, the slender, hot-tempered Italian politician turns out to be someone right on our wavelength.
Bonino, a member of Italy's parliament since 1976, is a fighter for causes that many Canadians would admire. She has campaigned for converting military budgets to development aid, for a war crimes tribunal in the former Yugoslavia and for human rights in the former Eastern Europe.
In addition to her fisheries portfolio, Bonino is in charge of the European Union's program of humanitarian aid. She oversees grants to more than 60 countries around the world, making Europe one of the most significant players in crisis intervention.
Two of the key targets of European aid are in this hemisphere: Cuba and Haiti. They are also high on Canada's diplomatic agenda.
Bonino, who had just visited both nations before coming to New York was eager to promote Europe's humanitarian record.
But there was an important subtext. In recent weeks, the U.S. Congress has been developing a new, hawkish line in the Caribbean.
Proposed legislation would penalize countries who trade with Cuba, and undermine American support for U.N. intervention in places like Haiti.
Both Europe and Canada have joined together to lobby against the Cuba legislation. Bonino said the European Union already had sent a critical letter to President Bill Clinton.
The legislation represents obvious interference with both Canadian and European economic interests. It will also seriously destabilize the region.
Bonino reported she warned Cuban leader Fidel Castro there was "not much time" for Cuba to begin the political and economic reforms necessary to smooth the crisis.
"I understand too well" he replied.
For the moment, there are few more important issues in the hemisphere than preventing further confrontation between the U.S. and Cuba, and chaos in Cuba itself.
The Clinton administration is well aware of the potential for a widening crisis.
This week, U.S. State Department officials tided to head off a congressional move to cut off aid to Russia because of Moscow's continuing support of an intelligence operation in Cuba.
Castro so far is not helping matters either.
Although six political dissidents were released from jail in Havana this week, hundreds more are believed to be subject to torture.
"The steps the (Castro) govenment has taken are simply not yet adequate," Bonino agreed.
In Haiti, the European Union will provide about 40 per cent of a planned $l billion government restructuring program.
The program is designed to relieve President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government from dependence on the U.S., and cushion his country from the economic shock treatment demanded by the International Monetary Fund. Europe's humanitarian aid is often forgotten in this part of the world. Despite the political paralysis of Western Europe's governments in Bosnia, the continent is a key player in what Bonino calls "forgotten crises."
We should be relieved that the European Union is involved in the diplomatic manoeuvrings currently under way in this hemisphere.
Canada has had little impact so far on the conservative hawks in Washington.
This time at least it's nice to be on the same side with Emma Bonino.
Stephen Handelman writes on hemispheric issues every Thursday